ARLINGTON, Va. — Time is growing short for military officers to apply for the prestigious Olmsted Scholar Program, a two-year, graduate-level language and cultural immersion program overseas.

Army Gen. George Olmsted established the program in 1943, after struggling to organize supply routes in caves along China’s rivers.

The experience convinced Olmsted that American military leaders lacked sufficient exposure and sensitivity to foreign cultures, according to the Olmsted Foundation’s Web site,

Olmsted scholars study at a university in the native language of the country of their interest, while their entire family can also enjoy a full cultural-immersion experience.

Candidates for the program must be active-duty line officers with between three and 11 years of commissioned service, and no more than 11 years total service as of April 1, 2006.

Candidates must also have at least a 3.0 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale for their undergraduate degree; a score of 550 on each portion (verbal and quantitative) on the Graduate Record Examination; and a score of at least a 110 on the defense language aptitude battery test.

Using recommendations from commanders and applications received directly from interested officers, each military service nominates a slate of candidates to compete for the program. Each service processes its applications differently beginning in the late summer and extending through the fall.

Navy applications are the first due, in mid-October. Air Force officers are the last; they must send their application packets to the Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, by Nov. 18.

A board will then convene in December and select the service’s slate of candidates to forward to the Olmsted board.

The Olmsted board meets in March to select five scholars each from the Army, Navy and Air Force, and three from the Marine Corps, to make up the 18-officer class of 2006-2007.

The program also gives spouses language-training grants, and they are “urged to take advantage of it,” the Web site says.

For more information on individual service requirements, military officers should ask their unit or flight personnel office, individual career counselor or detailer, or check the foundation’s Web site.

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